Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Fairfax County Resolution on Assessment

Agenda Item Details

Meeting:    Nov 18, 2013 - Regular Meeting No. 8
Category:   Meeting Opening - 7 p.m.
Subject:     Fairfax County School Board Resolution on State Assessment and
                 Accountability Reform
Type:        Action

Fairfax County School Board

     WHEREAS, in recent years the proliferation of high stakes standardized testing and the increasing role played by those test scores in key educational policy decisions, while well intentioned, has resulted in a narrowing of the instructional mission of schools, and caused a focus on compliance rather than on fostering a love of learning and instilling a culture of constant instructional improvement; and

     WHEREAS, Virginia’s students must currently take thirty-four criterion-referenced Standards of Learning (SOL) assessments between grades three and eleven, greatly increasing the amount of time spent by students and teachers on taking and managing assessments rather than on learning and teaching, with little evidence that students are better prepared to succeed in college and in their chosen careers by having taken such a volume of tests; little research to verify the usefulness and accuracy of Virginia’s method of relying upon SOL test results to measure growth in student achievement; and little research to verify that Virginia’s method of measuring student growth provides a valid and reliable indicator of teacher, principal and superintendent performance; and

     WHEREAS, the current Standards of Learning and their associated assessments are still largely focused on information recall and do not adequately address the acquisition and mastery of the skills required for students to be successful in the 21st Century such as innovation, literacy, collaboration, critical analysis, creative thinking, problem solving, and communication; and

     WHEREAS, what occurs in classrooms every day should be student-centered and result in learning at a deep and meaningful level with opportunities for students to cultivate their unique individual talents, provide options for students that are designed to respect how they learn best, and embrace the concept that students can be both consumers and creators of knowledge;  as opposed to the superficial level of learning that results from the current over-emphasis on that which can be easily measured by standardized tests; and

     WHEREAS, we recognize the need for and support accountability and transparency in public schools, but believe that such accountability should be designed to appropriately assess the achievement of all students, provide educationally-valuable information, recognize the roles of students, parents, teachers and schools in those results, and which can be leveraged to improve educational policy and practice;

     NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Fairfax County School Board calls on the Virginia General Assembly and Virginia Board of Education to reexamine Virginia’s public school assessments and the system of accountability for which they form the basis to ensure that the state’s assessment system provides educationally-valuable information, is reliable, valid, fair, and nonintrusive on the learning process and allows for the measurement of the acquisition and mastery of “21st Century Skills;” and

     ALSO, BE IT RESOLVED that such a reexamination to improve the current accountability and assessment system should potentially include a consideration of the use of statistically valid sampling techniques as utilized by assessments such as the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), opportunities to allow students to forgo standardized assessments in certain years based on previous high achievement levels, and expanded use of internationally benchmarked assessments as a substitute for SOL assessments.

Motion & Voting

adopt the Fairfax County School Board resolution on state assessment and accountability reform

Motion by Ryan McElveen, second by Theodore Velkoff.
Final Resolution: Motion Carries
Yes: Jane K Strauss, Sandra S Evans, Elizabeth Schultz, Ryan McElveen, Kathy L Smith, Tamara D Kaufax - Vice Chairman, Ilryong Moon - Chairman, Megan McLaughlin, Patricia Hynes, Patricia S Reed, Theodore Velkoff, Daniel G Storck

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